Monday, October 20, 2014

Tie Dye.

I got a wonderful tie dye kit for my birthday last year so I was itching to use it. As soon as the weather changed I decided to host a tie dye party for my daughter and my friends. I set up some dye baths in plastic tubs I bought from Poundland, using Dylon dyes. I reluctantly made up my fancy Jaquard dyes too as I wanted to try out the colour spiral. Everyone had a great time putting the elastic bands on their whites and experimenting with the colours. The youngsters found dip dying the easiest.
As you can see the whole process was a great success!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Cross stitch

It's amazing what you can accomplish when you're supposed to be doing something else. I have been swept away on a tide of cross stitch, and it has yet to deposite me back with my pending WIP's. Because of this I am making little progress with my granny square blanket and the loom beading has been discarded. It hasn't stopped me from looking at reference books on loom beading, though!
I find my cross stitch obsession funny; I would never have seen myself as a cross stitch kind of girl. In the past I have avoided cross stitch because I didn't see the place in my life for twee pictures rendered in thread. All this changed when I saw an Avengers Assemble project, soon I was being pulled down the cross stitch rabbit hole to Subversive Cross Stitch and other such delights.

During half term I found myself using up the last of my patience teaching my middle daughter and her friends to cross stitch. I have to admit that my irritation threshold for repeating myself is very low, thus I make a terrible craft teacher. One of the girls really took to cross stitch so this perked me up out of my grump.Then I decided to cross stitch LO a picture.

I started with the pattern of the girl. My daughter chose her hair and I chose the dress colour. She seemed a bit lonely just sitting there on the Aida so I put a pink border round her, but it didn't look right so I unpicked it. I thought for a bit and chose another one of the motifs out of the magazine and stitched it around the girl. working out the pattern was difficult because I have the attention span of a flea and you need one to count the itty bitty squares. In the end it turned out fine, just a quick bit of centering and it was as if they had meant to be together! In keeping with my cross stitch free life this one will be being framed in an oval frame and hung in my daughters bedroom.

Whilst I was on with the threads I thought I'd have a go at freehand embroidering a bird onto some vintage linens I was given. I have this book from the library called The Stitch Bible which  contains a beautiful blackwork bird pattern that I decided I'd try. I didn't have the correct material so I just started to copy it with my own flourish and this is how it turned out.
I love it! It needs some tweaking around the tummy but other than that I really enjoyed making it.

One of my friends had a beautiful hand embroidered romper suit that was given to her baby daughter as a welcome gift and I coveted it, so much so that I think I'll be making a couple of my own now that I have embroidery skills.

I'm not sure how long this diversion will last as I've been looking through the Craft book I got for Christmas. There are loads of cool things to make in there, next up is probably going to be some tie dying in spirals. Hopefully this avoidance of pending WIP's will end very soon and I can show off my gorgeous new blanket to you all.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Trying out cross stitch.

I've been really hankering after cross stitch for a while now so when I was perusing the magazines in the local supermarket I came across a free kit to make a cross stitched blue tit card.

I love craft, I love birds, what better way to get a cheap thrill than to get this magazine? I know I have a blanket and a bead loom waiting for my attentions but I just couldn't resist!

Even though this was my first ever cross stitch project I found it quite easy. I think I can remember the ladies in home economics saying that the back of a cross stitch should be as neat as the front which made me have a little experiment and then a think about how I was going to achieve that. It was fun, quick and I did it in one evening. Here is the finished project in the little frame it came with.
I did the lines a little thicker by accident, but I like them so they're staying (trust me to go off piste) and I think there was one are two squares that I counted wrong but it hasn't affected the over all picture. Thankfully. I loved this little guy and would love to do more cross stitch birds by this lady, they're really cute. Oh yeah, and here is a picture of the back. It's not as neat as I would have liked but it was my first try!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Beginning Beading on a Loom

I have been a bit intrigued by loom beading for a while now, I really thought that the effects you could achieve were really stunning but difficult. I even went so far one year as to ask for a loom for Christmas, unfortunately I was bought an enormous weaving loom which made me panic! So I took it upon myself to buy an Indian hand loom off of Amazon for not much money and it arrived with a supply of needles, thread and beads. I strung the thing up and left it sitting on the windowsill for about a week, just sitting there judging me and my lack of bead looming skills. To say I was intimidated by it was an understatement, the whole thing seemed to be so difficult to use that I might need the Rosetta Stone of crafting to approach it. Thankful the local library had just the thing, Dorothy Wood's 'Beaders Bible'. This book was my saviour in the looming department, it has tutorials in loom beading and off loom beading which are pretty simple to follow. So I set about starting my project and discovered that this was actually really easy. I started with twelve strings but very quickly started to run out of beads, so I restrung the loom with seven threads which I'm not sure but I think this is the warp. I decided I wanted a summery colour scheme to go with the season so used blue orange and white.
I thought starting small would be a good idea, just beading a 6x6 square or two, and then I realised that I hadn't left much length on the threads to be sewn in and there were going to be more bits of thread than beads in the finished product. But that didn't stop me as I had an idea forming, take the little squares and put them on lengths of silver chain, what could be more summery than that? Here is the finished product.
I'm really glad I tried loom beading, I have really enjoyed it and will be trying a slightly larger project next time. I definately would recommend it to anyone. It just goes to show that with the right information/teacher/tutorial it is possible to achieve things you thought impossible.

I didn't find any great tutorials out there on Youtube, a lot of them are long winded or are trying to sell you something. Here is an ok one with videos of off loom tutorials in the sidebar, worth a look and a save if you're getting into beading.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Crochet blanket WIP pt1

I am crocheting a blanket to give as a Christmas gift, which is a good time to choose because it's going to take ages. All together the whole blanket will be 15x15 squares, large enough to cover a UK double bed! I have toyed with the idea of making it smaller but it would only be by one or two squares. What I want is a luxurious throw that will cover a whole bed and drape elegantly to the floor, this fall will take the extra squares! With this being a gift I keep swinging wildly between being really happy to be making it for the person and being crippled with doubt that this archaic bed covering will be actually used. I think I have the crafters version of stage fright. Whatever I decide, it won't be because I'd like to abandon this WIP, it will be seen through to the end.

Here are the first twenty five squares sewn together. They are a simple granny square, I got a tutorial from here on YouTube, this is an amazing place to learn just about anything you want and there are so many people who want to show you their skills. There are many different ways to join squares together but I wanted the blanket to lie flat so opted for a double crochet join, which I found here on YouTube.

I learned to crochet when I was a wee girl but it didn't hold my interest, I only took it back up again about three years ago after finding a really cute crocheted baby dress pattern in a charity shop that I just had to make. I found it quite a challenge, learning all the crochet terms and following a pattern, but it was ultimately rewarding. I went on to crochet a small bag out of plarn I made from carrier bags but didn't do much for a while, then I had my newest daughter and decided to make her a version of the dress I made a few years before. From then on I haven't stopped for very long, learning how to do a baby blanket, out of one large granny square, for my nephews arrival and then a large throw for myself. I am planning on furthering my crochet by learning a bit of amigurimi, making plarn shopping bags and learning tatting.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Spring Update.

Today the natural light was good, so I got a few pictures of my WIP. First of all is my hand loom. I've only got as far as stringing it. I've used seven strands of cotton for a six bead strip. I'm unsure as to what I should make, I have toyed with the idea of a seaside inspired bracelet or a square of beads to hang off a chain. To know fully I'll just have to let the beads take me there. Wherever the journey takes me I'll be using a book I got out of the library called The Beaders Bible. It's a really good book for beginners as it has step by step guides as to how to string your loom, it even has a section on how to make a loom out of two pieces of doweling and two rubber bands! Now that would be cool.
I first got a hankering for loom beading when I saw some vintage work from the 1920's. I thought it was beautiful and skillful and I wanted to try it out. I also wanted a hand loom to do a wire weaving tutorial I had seen in a craft book called Design and Make Jewellery Using Textile Techniques. I absolutely love this book and I definitely need it on my bedside table for inspired reading before bed.

My second project is a granny square crocheted blanket I'm making as a gift. I love granny squares as they are pretty easy to do. I have tried doing straight lines in crochet by my work starts to slant. I have successfully crocheted a toddler dress but that pattern didn't have that many end of rows so for now I'm keeping it simple. I'm using up all my yarn bits and bobs but trying not to make doubles of the colours. This has been difficult because I had originally intended for the blanket to fit a double bed, this would require making approx 225 unique squares. I'm not sure making 225 unique squares would be possible unless I remortgaged the house and sent the kids to live with relatives. Thankfully there shouldn't be too many repeats on the colours as I was gifted a lot of odd ends of wool from my Grandmother in law and I can get pretty cheap yarn from a haberdashers in Newcastle Grainger Market. They usual have 100g balls of acrylic wool in impossible colours for about £1.50 and that does me fine for a project like this. For more muted colour  Wilkinson do a range of 100g acrylic baby wools for £1.79. These are often a lot better quality than the wools from the Grainger market. Here is a little pic of some of my squares.

I've used four double crochet in the corners to save on wool and I'm going to join the together with a running double crochet and hopefully they'll lie flat and neat. More pictures as I put the whole lot together.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Another thread.

I may not be able to craft with any gusto at the minute but that doesn't mean I can't look at other crafts! I have been trawling embroidery inspiration, started by looking at pictures of rice mandalas created by Buddhist monks. I didn't realise I had a big think about mandalas until posting this here but they really seem to fire my brain.
I found this wonderful site for cross stitch mandala patterns, and have gone so far as choosing my favourite for my birthday. On my Internet embroidery meandering I found a lady who converts pictures into cross stitch. Here is her Avengers Assemble offering. I am pretty much in awe of her skills and will be making full use of them as I acquire cross stitch prowess. She takes requests and will help you convert any image, so if there was a favourite photo you wanted to cross stitch but didn't know where to start then she's your lady.